THE international supporters of Oscar Pistorius who flew in for his brief court appearance, earned a rebuke from the African National Congress Women’s League on Wednesday.
The league said in a statement that it “condemns the actions of the group rallying support for Oscar Pistorius, which is identified as the International Group for Oscar Pistorius”.
Members of the group of supporters on Monday held up a large banner carrying the names of people from more than 20 countries‚ as well as posters saying “Global character assassination” and “Oscar was abused and bullied in front of the world” outside the High Court in Pretoria.
Among them was Heather Malcherczyk from the UK‚ who said: “I’ve always believed it was a terrible accident. He has no history of violence. No history of domestic violence. He is disabled… This is a violent country. He acted out of fear.”
Women’s League secretary-general Meokgo Matuba said on Wednesday that “the group…was satisfied with the culpable homicide ruling and is now gunning for a lenient sentence”.
“However‚ this stance is undermining the plight of women who continue to lose their lives in the hands of their partners‚” Ms Matuba said.
“We condemn these actions because we believe that the brunt of domestic violence cannot be reduced into emotions and sentimental beliefs of a group that sympathises with the accused.”
Pistorius made a brief appearance for his case to be postponed to June 13 for sentencing proceedings‚ which must be held afresh after the Supreme Court of Appeal last year overturned his culpable homicide conviction for shooting and killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. It instead found him guilty of murder.
Ms Matuba said the supporters’ “actions undermine our justice system, which seeks to protect all victims of abuse irrespective of class”.
“We have observed the grandstanding of the international supporters and we urge them not to undermine challenges faced by our people.”
She vowed that “all structures of the (Women’s League) will be at the Pretoria High Court … to witness the judgment proceedings and to offer support to the Steenkamp family”.